Friday, January 31, 2014

And if you're not bored yet, give this a try

Because my life is So riveting, I thought you guys might like to get a gander of what my grocery shopping list looks like.  I know; ooooOooo so exciting....
Anyhoo, went to Sam's club today and picked up my normal things there and here is a sampling:

All Purpose Flour
Bread Flour
Yeast (2lbs)
Olive Oil
Cheese slices
Cheddar Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Lemon Juice
Coffee Creamer

I also purchased some meds as well as laundry soap.  Still on my list of things to get at the regular store are Tomato paste, Tortilla chips, Celery, salsa, Toilet paper, and Bananas.  The real point of all of this is to show that while my list isn't filled with cake or cookie mixes, the latest boxed dinner, etc.  I can  take the staple items I have and put together whatever I need.  Last night I mixed up sausage to cook for breakfast.  Tonight I made pizza with a from scratch crust.  Tomorrow may have some sort of cookie or graham cracker recipe as well as Mayo.  Because I can put together the things myself, I pay less than the convenience food normally found in grocery stores.

( Mean while the very next day...).  So!  I cooked up 2/3 of the sausage today into patties and then the other 1/3 was browned as crumbles to make sausage gravy for biscuits this morning.  The patties will be frozen and used on an as needed basis.  I thought I would share my recipes for the sausage, biscuits, and gravy. 

For the sausage, I have discovered that Publix will grind meat for you if you ask them.  I bought 2 boneless pork loins.  I have the centers of each cut to chops, but the ends I had ground.  Whatever way you get ground meat, that is what you need.  This recipe can also be used with ground turkey.  So here goes

8 oz ground pork or turkey
2 TBS finely chopped red onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/4 -1/2 tsp Sage
1/4 tsp ground Cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp salt

Mix everything in a bowl the night before and let it chill in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld.  Shape into patties or crumbles and use accordingly.

Being out of Shortening and not really wanting to buy more cause it is hydrogenated ya know, I tried something different.  Instead of cutting in shortening, I baked the biscuits in butter.  Here goes:

Preheat oven to 400. In a 9X13 baking pan, melt 1stick of butter.  You can use a 9X9 if you want and go as low as 1/2 stick of butter.  I think it will do fine.  This was my first undertaking this way so 1 stick is how I did it   Place the pan with the butter in the oven. While the butter is in the oven, melting, combine:

3 cups of flour (you can omit the baking powder and salt and just use self rising if you want.  I use 1 cup whole wheat flour with 2 cups all purpose flour so I keep the baking powder and salt).
1 TBS Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt

Mix the dry ingredients together then add:
1 Cup milk.

Knead a couple of times in the bowl and then turnout onto a slightly floured surface to roll out.  Roll out to about 3/4 in think.  Use a biscuit cutter (sometimes I will just shape them into round biscuits or use the ring to a canning jar) to cut out your biscuits.  Once the biscuits are cut out, your butter should be melted.  Remove the pan from the oven and one by one put your biscuits in the pan flipping once to coat with the butter.  Bake the biscuits in the oven about 15-20 minutes or until golden.

The gravy is the easiest to make.  It is just browning 6 oz of sausage and adding 2/3 cup of cream soup mix and 1 1/2 cups of water.   Bring to a boil on a med heat to thicken.  Serve hot over biscuits.  For the Cream Soup mix recipe, you can find it on my blog here:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

You never know what you'll find out.

My son, Rubic, would probably be surprised, but I don't hate technology.  I enjoy it in its place.  I have a Facebook account.  I like shopping online.  I have my blog.  The list goes on.  One of the things I very much appreciate is the ability to look things up online.  To have a random question that pops into my head answered with a couple of strokes of a keyboard.  This is a truly vital tool with which to learn more and more frugal things.  While some of my experiences come from my "experiments", much knowledge has been gleaned from "googling".  My latest excursion into a virtual encyclopedia concerned what makes up Poultry Seasoning and Allspice.  This led me to find this  recipe for Poultry Seasoning.  As for the Allspice, I discovered that true Allspice is derived from a berry.  One can, however, make an Allspice substitute by combining equal parts of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  The internet, when used responsibly, is a cornucopia of information.  When in doubt, type your question in the box and see what you find.  A great resource. 

Due to our snow storm (hey 3 inches in Ga is a big thing), I have had the past two days off.  I have tried to  make the most of my time off and have been organizing closets.  I have the linen closet next to Rubic and Einstein's room, and my pantry closet.  It is nice to have things organized.  Now if it would stay that way.  I have also been trying to make as much as possible from scratch to keep from having to go to the grocery store.  I have to say it has been fun.  I have made mayo, cookies, granola bars, and a pumpkin pie(Yummm).  I have also been trying to use up stuff I already had on hand.  You know like when you need to use up that last bit of sour cream, or lettuce, etc.  A good thing to do to be sure.  This will also help with getting groceries later this week.  Plus nothing goes to waste. 

In preparation for spring, I have ordered my seeds for my cold weather crops.  They should  be here soon.  I can't wait!  I already have my trays ready to go and am working on a heat source for my greenhouse. 

So that is my update for today.  Not much I suppose, but a little none the less.  

Have a great day! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hoooo boy looks like ma done gone an tried nother one a her sperments!

Hey I am only out 20 bucks if I don't succeed, but if I am successful I will have made an area suitable for my baby seedlings to flourish!  A mini greenhouse! 

Let me splain.  This time of year I always get the gardening bug.  Nasty bug that.  Gets me right after Christmas.  It doesn't matter if it is 6 degrees outside (and it has been this year).  My thoughts will turn to freshly tilled soil, baby plants growing tall, and all the wonderful goodies I plan (I hope) to put up this summer.  It doesn't help that we will have absolutely gorgeous days in between the seriously cold days that make you want to go plant something.  With that thought in mind,   I have been entertaining the thought of building a sure nuff greenhouse this year, but reality is the time and the funds are just not really there.   Many more urgent repairs are taking priority.  My house doesn't have great windows in which to start seeds.  Therefore I am relegated to either buy plants or get creative and find a way to do this myself.  I have chosen the latter.  Now this being an experiment, I will have to share the results at a later time, but for  now, here is what I did.

I have a set of heavy duty plastic shelves outside on my back deck.  Currently they house very little except a few dormant plants; potted Iris and a miniature rose bush.  These plants are my control group.  Originally I was going to use heavy duty clear plastic, but upon entering said local hardware store, I was delighted to find clear vinyl sheeting cut to order.  I ordered 12 feet and took my treasure home.  Armed with my purchase, a pair of scissors, and gorilla duck tape (this is red neck after all)I began my experiment.  Now mind you, if this works, the refined lady that wants everything to look relatively nice will emerge and make this a more attractive and permanent fixture, but until then this will have to do.  I went out and began covering the shelving unit.  It needed to be where heat is captured, but there is still adequate ventilation.  Here are my results:

Nothin fancy, and you really can't see much in this picture, but it is there none the less.  The top window box holds the iris and I am already seeing condensation on the sheeting.  If this works I will actually put the pieces together to make a greenhouse tent that slips over this shelving unit.  I am hopeful to be able to grow my seedlings, lettuce and spinach earlier this way.  Here's a thought.  Maybe I can grow my spinaches and lettuces year round.  I spend  about 8-10 dollars a month on greens.   And that is for non-organic.  It would be nice to be able to have my good greens way cheaper, and all the time.

See!  I told you when I was feeling better I would post something! 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Under the weather

I have comedown with a doozy of a cold.  Dh is being very good to me.  I am laying here on the sofa and he has the laundry going and is doing the dishes.  Not going to post an official post because a) not much to say, and b) not really up to it.  As soon as I am able I will be back.   Stay tuned....

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Spring dreams and things I wouldn't buy at the store even if I had the money......

I can understand buying certain convenience foods at grocery stores.  Grabbing a box of Hamburger helpers is better than succumbing to the lure of fast food.  Waffles are time consuming to prepare for everyone  if you are needing to get to work.  I get it.  I don't begrudge people buying convenience foods.  Sometimes time demands it, and sometimes you just don't feel like taking the time to do it yourself.  Can I share a secret?  I too have bought convenience foods.  I know the combination of everyone's gasp just sucked some poor shmuck off the street.  It's true though.  There are times when it is easier to grab a ready made pizza or frozen dinner.

Now that the true confessions part of my post has been taken care of; can I just say that there is a line I will not cross.  There are certain things that don't pay to grab at the store.  For example, I do not buy already mashed potatoes refrigerated in a plastic country crock, or Cinnamon sugar mixture in the spice section, or my personal pet peeve, the already made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crust cut off.  Drives me crazy the thought there is a market for these things.  The mark up on these items is ridiculous.  When potatoes cost at most 45 to 50 cents a pound,   I don't understand paying 3 to 4 times that amount.  Same for everything else I listed.  Take the time to make your own cinnamon sugar.  Just take about 1/2 cup sugar and 1tsp cinnamon(or more if you like) and mix it up in jar or other container.  Make your own PB and J and cut the crusts off.  Use the crust if you want to make bread crumbs or croutons. 

Okay my vent is done for now. 

On the homestead, I can say I have been able to prune my fruit trees (and but good too cause I have to be able to get all the spray to them this year.  I WANT PEACHES!).  My plan is to prune them back a good bit and open it up some so that the spray I use can reach all parts of the tree.  I probably won't get fruit this year.  My thought is if I can get ahead of the leaf curl, and fruit moths this year then maybe I will get fruit next year.  I am not out anything because I am throwing away at least a bushel of peaches every season.  Not Cool!  Being outside, even in the cold has only reinforced the longing to get back out in my garden. I am starting to make my plans and dream of a wonderful garden this year.  I am thinking we are looking at another rainy summer so I need to take that into account in my plans.  This means I need to put in at least another two concrete raised beds.  In those three raised beds I will be adding some extra sand and organic material to help with drainage.  Hopeful that will make those areas more productive.  Well that and the addition of the chicken poo. 

Other plans on my more than ambitious list are building a small green house, and hopefully a better chicken coop.  We also have some house type repairs that need to be made.  Are going to do it all?  Uhhhh No!  We will pay to have some of the repairs done cause there are things I have no clue about when it comes to home repair. 

So now that I have dreamt aloud.. What are your spring dreams?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A good start to the year

This morning I headed out to my local Kroger (not the one near my work. That doesn't open til spring) to pick up some items I needed that were on sale.  I also wanted to check some prices for things I normally buy at other stores and compare.  Also on my list was to find out the prescription price for my thyroid meds cause Kroger has this deal right now where you get a $25 grocery card with a transferred prescription.  Well the good news on that one was they beat the price I currently pay for my prescription.  Needless to say I transferred my prescription and should get my grocery card tomorrow when I pick it up.  In addition the prices for my groceries were comparable to other stores in my area and those prices that didn't compare I can get at Publix or Sams.  So I got everything I wanted, plus some extra things.  Then I go to get gas at the Kroger gas station cause I have fuel points now!  Their gas was already 10 cents cheaper than any other area, but when I put in my Kroger card I got another 10 cent per gallon off!  I know I can't believe I am saying this, but I got gas for $2.99 a gallon.  That is now a good price apparently.  In addition, one of the extras I found were Nestle Christmas choc chips.  The difference between them and the normal choc chips?  They have red and green choc chips mixed in with the regular ones.  I paid .99 a package.  WOOT WOOT!  So they are red and green.  If I so choose I can pick out the red ones to make valentine choc chip cookies and the green ones to make St Paddys day choc chip cookies.  The regular ones can be everyday choc chip cookies.  Win Win.  I am so excited to have a Kroger next to my work.  Does this sound like a Kroger commercial?  Huh.  It is kind of a Kroger and Publix commercial cause I will be ping ponging between them in the near future.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I'm trying to avoid getting sucked in....and other musings of a crazy woman

I can feel it coming on.  With the advent of trying to eat healthier plus time constraints due to the guys getting started with their secondary education, I can feel myself getting pulled into a trap of convenience foods, coupons, and all that entails.  I am fighting it.  Part of the problem comes with the temptation to forgo shopping across town at the Aldi store in favor of the Kroger right next to my work.  With the new schedule coming up, shopping Aldi on the weekend is my only option.  I don't know if you guys have ever been to Aldi on the weekends, but it is standing room only; mass confusion.  For this reason, I am beginning to think of other factors besides price, in my grocery shopping deliberations.  Convenience and gas prices have to factor in now.  The new Kroger is literally right next door to my office.  Now that Kroger doesn't double coupons and have lowered their prices, they are comparable to Aldi in many things.  If I focus on sale prices, I think I could come out okay.  In order to save more, I have considered going  back to using coupons, but when I do that I get pulled into buying items I don't need because I have the coupon for it.  For that reason I am contemplating making the change without the coupon addition and just watch my sale prices.  I would still shop at the Publix on that side of town, as well as going by Sams when I take Einstein to school (it is across the street).  If this blog post seems a bit rambly it is because I am thinking out loud. 

In other frugal news:  Dh and I are happy to announce the brush pile in our back yard is now 99.9 % gone.  Most of what is left is small branches that need to be raked up and burned.  Our new years day was spent burning brush.  Yes we are that type of exciting couple.  Cause you know those couple getaways to exotic destinations is so cliché.  We are trying to decide what to do with this area come spring.  We are torn between expanding the garden to that area, or building a permanent chicken coop.  I think DH would like the garden expanded cause he is not too keen on having to cut more grass in the spring.  It is going to take some more work to get the roots up from the Kudzu and seed trees in the area.  I think once that is done we should have a great addition to the garden.  THe chicken coop would be a nice addition if we are going to allow some of the eggs we have been collecting to hatch.  I did find something interesting in the brush pile.  I have what looks to be like a tree...namely a fruit tree I think.  The bark looks similar to sapling fruit trees one would buy.  The only thing that make me wonder is the fact that the buds on this thing are blue and none of my fruit trees are so colored.  I will need to take a pic of it and see if folks can help me out as to what it is.  Until I know it stays put.  If it is a fruit tree, it has a place in my back yard. 

Because I have so much time on my hands, I am always finding things to do(sarcasm just so you know).  Todays other adventure was to take two sofa cushions covers from two different sofas and use them for repair.  Namely one was used to repair the other.  Mona, our pit bull darling gets antsy when left to her own devices for too long.  We learned this fact the hard way when we arrived home one night to find she had eaten a sofa cushion.  Mainly the zipper was damaged but the cover itself was salvageable.  It now needed to be repaired or I would forever be dealing with a sofa cover.  Enter the other cushion cover from another cushion I don't use anymore.  I removed the still good zipper from the old sofa cushion and it is now ear-marked to repair the chewed on cushion.  The now zipper less old cover will now become a heavy duty grocery bag.  Once I removed the old damaged zipper I realized that a good portion of the zipper was good.  I cut the zipper down and made a shorter but now usable zipper.  I also removed the piping from the old zipper less cushion to use in throw pillows I plan to make.

Yes, I am quite the party animal when it comes to ringing in the new year.  This is my day in a nutshell.  Aside from the above, throw in a few cups of coffee, some cookies I shouldn't have eaten and dinner tonight and you have the jest of it.  So how was your day!